Don't let apathy win: B2B Brand Strategy insights


Don't let apathy win: B2B Brand Strategy insights

Apathetic person sitting at a desk.
This week, we spoke to Rachel Fairley, international marketing expert and brand strategist, on the problem of wild, untrained marketers, preventing churn, and how to eliminate the brand enemy of every B2B business. Let’s dive in: 

1. Why don’t marketers receive formal training?

When it comes to training, Rachel believes the marketing world is lagging behind, citing a lack of industry-wide certifications, alongside real-world understanding of the full business lifecycle, as a key issue for marketers today. ‘If you're an accountant, you have training that teaches you a methodology and models. Why isn't marketing like that?’ she says. 

Of course, there are plenty of informal resources like books and shorter courses for marketers to learn from. But throughout her 20 years of repositioning businesses, Rachel found that the case studies featured in these were often either boastful and superficial, or too focused on how the wrong decisions were made. And even when the case studies are great, she fears that the lessons they teach will never get put into practice. 

‘Thank goodness for all the Marks, Jennies, Byrons, and all of those incredible thinkers. Just brilliant people coming up with really good, quite academic, but also very pragmatic thinking about what [marketing] is and why and how you do it,’ she says. ‘But I don't know how many marketeers really lean into that and actually study it and get to the point where they have understood and can action it.’

‘They don't actually teach you what the methodology is and how to know when things are going to go wrong and plan for that eventuality. Why isn't that there? Why isn't that a thing that you have to do to be certified and to be a marketeer?’


2. There’s more to marketing than the bottom of the funnel


All too often, businesses get stuck on the end stages of customer acquisition. But a customer’s decision to buy from you starts way before they’re anywhere near your funnel. To tip them over the edge into a purchase, you already need to be on their radar before they’re ready to buy. And, as Rachel knows, the work doesn’t stop there unless you want to become a victim of churn.

'There's this trickiness around marketing being seen as upfront, before the customer walks through the door,’ says Rachel. ‘But I actually think it's about the relationship your business has with the customer. If you don't act, tell the same story, and deliver on that consistently all the way through the business, then [churn] is exactly what happens.’ 

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of trying to meet KPIs and other quantitative metrics, but remembering that your customers are real people and putting yourself in their shoes across each stage of your brand’s relationship with them can be a great way to keep their best interests at heart. 

‘I don't think many businesses really understand how it feels to be a human being, and you see all these different bits of this business delivering to you and speaking to you, but they don't see it themselves. [...] It's almost like as you get more successful, you get more deaf and you can't see you're working with a blindfold. I think that's why if you get a great strategy that's market oriented and everybody actually understands what the strategy is, you’ve got to make sure that delivers all the way through the business.’


3. The biggest brand enemy in B2B


Brand enemies are often described as the very problem a brand exists to solve — for example, Nike vs. demotivation. But Rachel knows that, when it comes to the B2B market, apathy is the real killer. 

'I think the brand enemy for most buyers is inertia,’ she says. ‘Because if you're in a business and you are buying on behalf of that business, unless they have monumentally screwed up, your risk profile is probably quite risk averse, because you're thinking to yourself “Well, why would I take this out and replace it with something new?”’

In this case, that would involve persuading numerous high-level stakeholders, training everyone on how to use the new product, and putting your reputation on the line for it. So it’s understandable that many would rather stick to the old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

'I find it fascinating because whenever the world looks kind of bonkers, I think what's kicking in is that inertia born out of wanting to be confident that you're going to be perceived as doing a good job, that you're not going to make a mistake,’ says Rachel. 

‘It's what keeps people awake at night. So if you're in the buyer's head when they come to market to shop, then you stand a chance of being compared against the inertia candidate. And then if you can help them buy very straightforwardly and you can make sure that they know they've got the best thing for them, that will give them confidence.’


If you’re not listening to the full podcast, you’re only getting about 10% of the insight. Listen to Rachel Fairley’s episode to find out how to nail your pricing strategy, overcome indecision, and why it’s crucial for marketers to develop a deep understanding of the market. 


As well as running her own boutique agency, Duckman Copy Ltd, Ornella is house writer for the Unicorny podcast which is sponsored by Selbey Anderson. She’s happy to turn her pen to all types if content from white papers to websites, from billboards to board game instructions and contributes regularly to, and